Saint Nicolas

Augustine Sokolovski

The veneration of Saint Nicholas is extremely great. Undoubtedly, he is one of the most revered saints in history. Moreover, this veneration extends not only to the entire Orthodox world, but to the entire Christian planet. As a spontaneous reaction to such great fame of one of the saints, the question arises why some saints are revered more than others. The answer to it is revealed in the biblical teaching, according to which, an immortal man, created in the image of God, who has attained the likeness of God in holiness, lives and continues to live forever. A human being remains a living, thinking, loving person.

Therefore, many saints chose to praise God day and night. They preferred to get away from the veneration of people, and after the death of the body to maintain that humility that revived their souls in their bodily life on earth. As it says in the book of the Apocalypse: “These are those who came from the great tribulation; they washed their clothes and made their clothes white with the blood of the Lamb. For this they are now before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple, and He who sits on the throne will dwell in them” (Rev. 7:14-15).

These saints, who loved most of all the glorification of God, laid their hands on Saint Nicholas and entrusted him with intercession for the people. They preferred to remain in the unknown. They are great saints, and, above all, saints, holy bishops, contemporaries of Saint Nicholas himself.

It is known from the history of the Ancient Church that only a few decades after the death of St. Nicholas, within the boundaries of the Roman Empire, which then numbered, according to various estimates, about fifty million people, there were two thousand orthodox bishops.

Asking the question why Nicholas, was chosen for such a great service to people after his death, by his brothers in holiness and God, it is important to turn to the text of his vita to make sure that almost nothing has come down to us from his biography. Unfortunately, specific detailed historical documents about the earthly biography of Nicholas have not come down to us.

His glory of holiness is, first, a heavenly glory of signs and wonders born of reverence born in the veneration of the church people. Contemporaries of Nicholas, the great bishops of the East and West of the Christian world - Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, John Chrysostom, Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo and Leo the Great - did not say anything about Nicholas in their works.

According to his life, the saint was born in the year 270. That is, he was a contemporary of the era of persecution and the legalization of Christianity under Emperor Constantine (+337). He was present during the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea of 325. He was contemporary of the era of great dogmatic disputes after the Council. But for his contemporaries Nicholas remained in obscurity. This mysterious disappearance of him from the immediate memory of history was rewarded by God with the great glorification and glory that he received from Heaven.

Belief in the Second Coming of Christ is a dogma. Every day it is proclaimed in the Creed with the words: “I believe in the One Lord Jesus. Christ. Coming again with glory, to judge the living and the dead. His Kingdom will have no end."

The expectation of the Lord's Coming places us, the Church, as a community of believers, in the period between two Easters: our earthly Easter, celebrated from since the Resurrection of Jesus to Pentecost every year, and that Great Easter of the Lord Jesus, when He returns in glory with all the saints. The Lord will resurrect every person who has ever lived from the beginning of the world. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this corruptible puts on incorruption, and this mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:53-54).

For a correct, Orthodox, understanding of holiness, it is especially important to realize that the saints are not only intercessors helping us, as if remaining with the Church after the Resurrection and Ascension of the Lord Jesus - the One and Only True Wonderworker and Saint for all time - but they are forerunners of His Second Glorious Coming.

As the Gospel of Matthew mysteriously speaks of this: “And the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were resurrected, and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection, they entered the Holy City and appeared to many” (Matthew 27:51-53). Such a resurrected, emerging from the graves forerunner of the Coming of Christ was for the Church and the Whole World St. Nicholas, whom the faithful request for intercession before God.